"Too much for you? Step into the ring as one of your favorite WCW or NWO superstars!"
Well, it's been a minute or two since I've taken a look at a licensed video game here so, this time, I decided to replay one that enjoyed from the PS1 era; WCW Nitro. Now, I'm not saying that I'd still call this a good game; we'll have to wait and see on that. All I know is that I remember it being a good game but I was a "party hard teenager" at the time so my memories may not necessarily reflect reality.
WCW Nitro was released by our old, defunct friends at THQ in 1998 and was developed by Inland Productions. This is usually the part of the review where I say, "Oh, you may not have heard of (such and such developers) but they're responsible for releasing the classic series, 'WhateverTF'", but that's not the case here. You don't have to feel bad for not being aware of Inland Productions' existence because I don't know who the hell they were either and, upon closer inspection, they were only active for a few years and they only released a handful of games. This game's predecessor (WCW vs The World) was also released by THQ but it was developed by The Man Breeze (AKI Corporation) so I'm a little uncertain if "no-name developers" Inland Productions can compete with the legendary AKI Corporation when it comes to programming a quality wrestling game but, we'll give them a fair chance.
This game starts with an FMV intro featuring footage of the top WCW and NWO stars of the era, and Jeff Jarrett... whatever you'd consider him to be. The edits in this intro are super fast. I made sure to take note and whoever edited this intro packed 35 clips into 25 seconds worth of video! After the ADHD style intro video, we are welcomed to the game by CBW Spokesman "Mean" Gene Okerlund. You can't ever go wrong with "Mean" Gene or Gene "Mean" for that matter... if you happen to be The Iron Sheik.
As far as game modes; there isn't much. You can play singles or tag matches with one or two players. That pretty much sums it all up. The wrestler select screen is a nice throwback to WCW Superbrawl Wrestling for the SNES. Here, just like WCW SuperBrawl, they decided to "animate" the wrestlers but instead of "animation", there's FMV of the various wrestlers cutting promos on either why you should choose to play as them or what they're going to do to you when you wrestle them. It's a nice touch, but I was hoping for some unintentionally funny promos like Ahmed Johnson's in WWF War Zone.
As far as the roster goes, they're 16 wrestlers on the main roster. This is basically all of WCW's main eventers. Guys like Hall, Nash, Sting, Ric Flair and some of the top newcomers like Alex Wright and Eddy Guerrero. Beyond that, you get to the massive amount of unlockable characters. That's one thing that I really liked about this game at the time; secret characters.
The first tier of secret characters under the main eventers features almost the entire WCW announce team including Bobby Heenan, Gene Okerlund, and Tony Schiavone. There are also some managers and valets and even Lord Steven Regal and Ultimo Dragon available to play as. The tier of characters under this includes throwback versions of "The Hulkster", "The Stinger", "Macho Man" and referee Randy "(Don't Call Me) Pee Wee" Anderson.This is also where the weirder secret characters come in like "Santa Claws", Dweeble the Clown and a bear (a Russian bear, perhaps) named Ivan. The final tier of characters feature the developers of the game. They made themselves into wrestlers with names like Dudeman and Uncle Monkey. There's even a random guy in a suit and tie simply named Steve who somewhat resembles our own wrestling historian, Michael W. Rickard II.
Now we get to the actual matches. First, there are no ring entrances. Each match starts with the two combatants already in the middle of the ring. This is before the days that ring entrances were commonplace in wrestling games, though. You used to see them from time to time in some higher quality games since the days of the Super Nintendo but they weren't considered mandatory for a game as they are now.
The graphics look great all around. The wrestlers look nice and crisp and the different arenas are a nice touch. It definitely looks nicer than WCW vs. The World. I can't say as much for the gameplay, though. WCW vs. the World matches had the pace and the feel of actual pro wrestling matches. The matches featured back and forth action and "spirit bars" that would go up and down depending on the situation which enabled you to make comebacks and pull off big maneuvers when you needed them most. The matches in this game, on the other hand, are easy and can be won by just spamming moves. They're also really faced paced, like wrestling in fast forward, basically.
The opponent's AI also leaves something to be desired. They're all pretty dumb and don't pose much of a threat. It's reminiscent of what it must have been like being a wrestler on the old carnival circuit, demolishing rubes every night who had no idea of what they were getting themselves into. In other words; squash match city.
The in-game commentary is also very repetitive. I can't complain much because there were limitations as to what was able to be done at the time but if I have to hear Tony Schiavone yell, "the Frankensteiner!", one more time... I'm done.
The audio all around isn't that great. The sound effect you hear during a submission attempt literally sounds like a dog eating a bone or something. A little bizarre. There's also virtually no music in-game and what little music there is, is very forgettable. No classic wrestler themes or anything like that. I mean, why bother with entrances or entrance themes? It's not like professional wrestling is known for its pageantry or anything like that.
The closest thing to a story mode that this game has is the "tournament mode". It's almost not worth mentioning, really. You just play through 10 matches against 10 different opponents and if you win; you're shown a quick montage video of the wrestler you were playing as. That's pretty much it
I was a little underwhelmed while playing this again for the first time in over a decade. At the time, it looked nice and it was the latest WCW game to come out so it had that going for it. It also happened to be released around the same time as WWF War Zone, though, and that is the much better game in this case. Still, there's some brief fun to be had with the wacky characters and the "wrestling" wrestling historian.
Until next time... keep mashing those buttons!